The period from 2008 to 2010 represents a change in the way companies compete for hosted contact center business. There is a decisive shift from competition based on the legacy origin of service providers (SPs) to differentiation based on the size of the customer served. With new entrants foraying into the market, the distinction based on legacy history is less relevant to potential contact centers.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (contactcenter.frost.com), North American Hosted Contact Center Markets, finds that the markets earned revenues of over $453.7 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach $1,195.6 million in 2016. The study covers the following technologies: automatic call distributor (ACD), computer telephony integration (CTI), quality monitoring, call recording, and multichannel interactions.
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"The feature sets available from hosted vendors, along with the ease of deployment and administration, is clearly encouraging many end users to consider on-demand applications as an alternative to replacing or upgrading their legacy premises infrastructures," says Frost & Sullivan Principal Analyst Keith Dawson. "Because of this, some of the key market entrants are the premise vendors themselves, seeking a hedge against losing their customers to smaller service providers."
Smaller companies tend to be more price sensitive, eschewing some of the richer feature sets and concentrating on hosted services that promise to smooth out peaks and valleys in call volume. At the high end, companies are more receptive to broad-based integrations of call routing with more advanced multichannel applications and even with non-contact center infrastructure hosting, including business process outsourcing (BPO) initiatives.
One of the early selling points of hosted contact center services was the cost advantage – a company could procure the infrastructure for a small contact center at metered pricing, paying just for what was used, rather than for a complete center. However, competition based on cost encourages commoditization and a race to the bottom.
To combat this, vendors are trying to move up the value chain to enterprises that are willing to offload significant seat counts that number in the hundreds or even thousands. For these enterprise clients, security and reliability are paramount, more so than the cost per seat of application delivery. In a bid to capture these clients, vendors are building marketing messages around their network operations centers (NOCs) and the strength and redundancy of their networks as well as around the uptime guarantees they offer. Some are able to go head-to-head with reliability benchmarks that compare to that promised by internal IT departments.
SPs are approaching their potential clients with success-proof points that illustrate the short- and long-term costs and total cost of ownership (TCO) benefits for hosted platforms. As they move up the organizational value chain toward more complex, enterprise-hosted deployments (or mixed hosted/premise/managed service deployments), they are forced to provide more detailed references and case studies.
Contact centers are investigating the diverse applications that can be hosted in the cloud and subjecting both premise-based and hosted tools to a more rigorous ROI assessment than in the past. Companies from different legacy sectors have defined the parameters of hosting, fostering a degree of market confusion. The contact center market is a motley mix of flavors of hosting, and not all of them carry the same advantages or pricing schemes.
"Several of the key vendors in the sector are aware of this problem and have begun to craft more meaningful marketing messages that emphasize ROI and application ease of use," says Dawson. "More market education is needed to more clearly define when and how hosted systems can best be used in different kinds of contact centers."
North American Hosted Contact Center Markets is part of the Contact Centers Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: customer care outsourcing markets, inbound contact routing (ICR) markets, outbound dialing markets and agent performance optimization markets. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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North American Hosted Contact Center Markets / N74D